Lisbon cafe and travel guide - coffee, sleep, repeat

Ten years ago I visited Lisbon for the very first time. Back then, there was no sign of specialty coffee shops or concept stores, but the same vintage trams were roaming the evermore picturesque alleys of the old town.

lisbon historic center and tram

In recent years though, Lisbon has become a hub for creatives and young entrepreneurs from all over Europe. This has also manifested itself in the increasing number of coffee professionals that have introduced an approach to roasting and brewing coffee that is a lot different from the traditional ways. Coffee is deeply rooted in the everyday life of the average Portuguese, stemming from colonial times when coffee was heavily imported from Brazil. Most people drink commercial coffee by one of the industrial coffee companies, like Sical or Buondi, who produce dark roasted blends of Arabica and Robusta. To counter the bitterness, spoons full of sugar are added to either a bica (long espresso) or galão (long espresso with milk).

While the specialty coffee scene is still relatively small compared to other European capitals, it is doing a great job at challenging the status quo and diversifying the local coffee landscape. My prediction is that the third wave movement will soon have Lisbon in its grip! I met some amazing coffee people here and will tell you all about the who is who in the coffee world in this article.


Part of my stay I spent in Casa C'Alma, a bed & breakfast that looked like it came straight out of a magazine. I absolutely have to share this discovery with you!

So let's start with a cup of coffee, or two.

Copenhagen Coffee Lab

copenhagen coffee lab lisbon

Copenhagen Coffee Lab was founded in 2013 by Jacob Karlsen and Allan Nielsen in, you guessed it, Copenhagen. Two years later they ventured into warmer climates, and brought the Nordic approach to roasting and brewing coffee to Príncipe Real, a neighbourhood in Lisbon that is home to concept stores, innovative restaurants and cafés. The beans are shipped from Denmark and the menu holds regular third wave coffee drinks, such as espresso, flat whites or drip coffee.

copenhagen coffee lab lisbon

The atmosphere is easygoing and relaxing. Nothing must, everything can! Whether you want to work away solo on your laptop or meet friends for breakfast, there is space, there is a great approach to customer service and delicious coffee of course. Two single origins rotate for espresso and various pour-over methods are available. My personal highlight were the delicious Danish cinnamon buns, for when I overdosed on pastel de nata. By January 2018 CCL will venture into two more Lisbon neighbourhoods, with two new coffee shops opening in Alfama and one in Belem.

R. Nova da Piedade 10
Lisbon, Portugal

Hello, Kristof

hello kristof coffee lisbon
hello kristof coffee lisbon

Imagine you'd find all your favourite magazines in one place, together with great coffee, friendly people and in the most beautiful environment. Sounds too good to be true? Then Hello, Kristof will show you otherwise. This little gem is the work of Ricardo, a graphic designer who knows about the needs of them freelancers and digital nomads. No wonder I felt right at home here.

hello kristof, coffee lisbon
hello kristof coffee lisbon

Hello, Kristof works exclusively with the local specialty roastery and SCAE training center Academia do Café, which was founded by Sandra Azevedo already in 2011. Whether you feel social and want to enjoy your coffee at the communal table or choose one of the more private tables by the wall, you'll find your comfort zone for sure.

R. do Poço dos Negros 103
Lisbon, Portugal

Montana Lisboa Café

 Meet Ana

Meet Ana

 Meet Liza

Meet Liza

One of my favourite Lisbon discoveries was Montana! It's a coffee shop, urban art gallery and graffiti store located by the river right next to Cais do Sodré metro and ferry terminal. I met two lovely coffee professionals there, Ana and Liza, who shared their coffee story and some insights into the local coffee culture. Specialty coffee was mainly introduced by foreigners, Ana tells me. She joined Montana a few months after it first opened in March 2016 and has learned a great deal about specialty coffee since. She is preparing to take part in the barista championship next year and is trained by Liza, who is actually about to start her own micro-roastery on the other side of the river. Obviously I had to find out more (interview soon).

montana specialty coffee lisbon

The exhibition currently on features the work of Alexandre Farta aka @vhils that evolves around propaganda from Vietnam and Cuba. The culinary company of art and graffiti is Cafè de Finca, a roastery from Barcelona. Whether you crave a chemex, aeropress, V60 or a good old espresso, you're in very capable hands here! Once you soaked in all that urban atmosphere inside, the sunny terrace will maximize your holiday vibes with great river views outside.

Rua da Cintura do Porto de Lisboa
Lisbon, Portugal


 WISH at LX Factory

WISH at LX Factory

WISH has two locations in Lisbon. For one there's the Wish Slow Coffee House at LX Factory, an urban playground for artists, foodies and, you guessed it, coffee lovers! It is definitely worth it to spend an afternoon exploring this creative island that used to be a manufacturing complex. The Wish coffee shop is right in the heart of it, with an adjacent concept store, and surrounded by grape tendrils.

wish coffee lx factory

The second location is in the city center on the second floor of a beautiful historic building, with a concept store on the ground floor, and right across from the Trindade theater. Both places brew Five Elephant exclusively, stemming from several encounters at coffee fairs between the owners Margarida Eusebio, Barbara Rodrigues and the Berlin based roastery. The name says it: you'll definitely find hand brewed pour-over on the menu, but barista David working at LX factory location - aka @thecoffeehuman - swears on batch brew. Apparently, it is a popular option for both tourists and locals over there.

 Best seat by the window at Wish in Chiado

Best seat by the window at Wish in Chiado

Address at LX Factory:
Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103
Lisbon, Portugal

 Chiado location

Chiado location

Address in Chiado:
Largo da Trindade 17
Lisbon, Portugal

The Mill

the mill specialty coffee
the mill specialty coffee lisbon

I long thought that coffee is going to be the new wine, so it made total sense to me when I heard about The Mill specialising in both. Café during the day and vinho during the night is their mantra. Every time I stopped by the place was absolutely packed! Their delicious avocado toasts might have something to do with that. No exaggeration, the breakfast is the best in town! Or should I say breakie? The owners are an Australian-Portuguese duo that brings together the best of both worlds. The Mill also roasts their own coffee and offers two single origins for espresso. While serving specialty, the roast is more adapted to the liking of the locals, hence leaning to the darker side.

R. do Poço dos Negros 1
Lisbon, Portugal


bowls&bar coffee shop lisbon
bowls&bar coffee shop lisbon

Coffee enthusiasts who are also foodies, watch out, this one's for you! Bowls&Bar has opened up only a couple of weeks ago and is run by Kate, a Russian native who fell in love with Lisbon and its people. Healthy and innovative dishes are her signature! The menu is inspired by Hawaiian Poke and holds traditional dishes with a modern twist. As Kate prioritizes quality not only when it comes to food, she invited one of Portugal's greatest specialty coffee roasters from Porto to join the game. 7groaster beans are brewed on a vintage espresso machine from good ol'Italy. I had the pleasure to try the Barú Black Mountain single origin from Panama as an espresso, boosting notes of chocolate, caramel and papaya. That's it, I'm hooked!

bowls&bar coffee lisbon
bowls&bar coffee lisbon

R. de São Bento 51
Lisbon, Portugal

Olisipo Coffee Roasters

 Antony Watson

Antony Watson

Last but not least, I mentioned before that I met quite a few inspiring coffee people in Lisbon. Among them was Antony Watson, who has launched a new specialty coffee roastery called Olisipo together with his partner Sofia Gonçalve . A few years ago Antony traveled all the way to Ethiopia by bike to explore various local coffee cultures. This journey not only inspired him to write the book 'Bean on a Bike', but also to join the team of Vagabond Coffee Roasters in London upon his return, before making Lisbon his new home. Read more about Olisipo's unique approach and community engagement in this article I wrote for Sprudge.

Sleeping tight in Lisbon

Casa C'Alma

You've already read about a number of good reasons for booking a flight to Lisbon right now! Now here's another one. Staying at Casa C'Alma was like living in the home I always wish I had. This 5-room bed & breakfast is located in one of Lisbon's most desirable neighbourhoods, Príncipe Real, a stone's throw away from Copenhagen Coffee Lab and close to alternative designer and concept stores. I loved its distinct, minimalist interior design, that never compromised on comfort. The owner Rafael prepared delicious breakfast in the morning and made sure, I knew about great places to eat and hang. If you want to feel at home on your travels and be located close to some of the best coffee shops in town, then this is your place! Check here for latest offers and availability!

Praça das Flores 48
Lisbon , Portugal

Cafes in Athens: A guide to new and established specialty coffee places

Updated July 2018

athens specialty coffee guide

Specialty coffee has become quite the buzzword in Greece's coffee crazy capital. I've got to witness the growth of the coffee community first hand, while coffee touring Athens in the summer of 2016, 2017 and 2018. I am excited to present you the results of these caffeinated adventures: a specialty coffee guide featuring the real deal - new and established specialty coffee shops in Athens!

Newest addition to Athen's specialty coffee map

Coviar Micro Roastery

 Chris Loukakis

Chris Loukakis

I remember stepping into Coviar for the first time and thinking I must have the wrong address. What appeared in front of me looked more like the elegant lobby of a five star hotel than a coffee shop. Upon nervously looking around for something that seemed familiar I spotted the bar with syphons lining up and finally the friendly face of Chris Loukakis, one of the co-owners. So finally, I was in the right place I thought to myself, but completely under-dressed for such a fine venue.

coviar micro roastery athens

Upon learning more about this newly opened establishment from Chris I realized, Coviar is meant to provide an extraordinary coffee experience for everyone. Professionalism is high on the agenda, which is no surprise, given the fact that Chris has 13 years of experience in the coffee industry. Coviar is a combination of a coffee lab, roastery, café and bar. For the moment, a Colombia and a Brazil are on the menu, both beautifully balanced coffees that arouse curiosity of what's to come.

coviar micro roastery athens
coviar micro roastery athens

Delfon 5-7
Athens 106 80

Excellent specialty coffee shops in Athens (that have been around for a while)

Handpickers Coffee Roasters

handpickers specialty coffee roasters athens

In August 2016 I met Alexandros at Nomad, where he was working as a roaster at the time. One year later I had the pleasure to see him again at his newly opened specialty coffee shop and roastery in Tavros district. Handpickers is a passion project he runs together with his partner Natalie and friend Dimitris. Both Alexandros and Dimitris have won several national coffee competitions and bring many years of experience to the table. You could really feel that they put their hearts into this place and I've seldom experienced such hospitality!

handpickers specialty coffee roasters athens
handpickers specialty coffee roaster athens

The idea for the name came about when Alexandros visited Kenya in November 2016 together with Nordic Approach. It reflects the deep appreciation he has for the hard work that coffee growers and pickers carry out at origins. A beautiful painting on the outside wall of a women picking coffee confirms this! The inside space holds a couple of stools by the bar, and while you'll be in extremely nice company, lot's of folks drop in to take away. Now let's talk coffee! The signature espresso is a blend with 60% Brazil and 40% Colombia but there was also an option for a single origin Costa Rica natural. For filter Handpickers are sticking to a fully washed Kenya Nyeri with a natural sweetness and citric acidity, which is what I opted for. Even though Tavros is probably not on your list of places to visit in Athens, you could easily stop by on your way from or to Pireaus port by simply getting of the metro for a shot stopover.

handpickers specialty coffee roaster athens

Anaxagora 45
177 78 Athens Tavros

Peek a Bloom

peek a bloom specialty coffee

The second venture by the masterminds behind Mind the Cup in Peristeri is a treat for all senses. Conveniently located close to Syntagma square in the center of Athens it starts you off with breakfast in the morning and gets you through the night by serving fancy cocktails while looking plain gorgeous.

peek a bloom specialty coffee
peek a bloom specialty coffee

The person smiling at you on the picture above is Nikos, barista and roaster at Peek a Bloom, who had already been with the Mind the Cup family before building up this new place. That very day we met I was lucky to be surrounded by 3 latte art champions! Nikos had won the 2015 Latte Art Championships in Greece, Arnon Thitiprasert, who is the World Latte Art Champion 2017, was visiting from Thailand and Michalis Karagiannis was runner up at the same competition. When the latter two were deep in latte art discussions I picked Nikos brain about their coffee.

peek a bloom specialty coffee athens

Peek a Bloom are sourcing coffee beans from Nordic Approach and roast in a separate space behind the counter. Thanks to the large windows you'll get to see all the action though! On the counter a Black Eagle by Victoria Arduino is spreading its copper wings while the white and blue tilings remind us that we're actually in Greece (Yay!). For filter you can expect a nice selection including Chemex, Aeropress and even a Syphon.

Lekka 14
105 62 Athens

The Underdog

the underdog specialty coffee athens

Come day, come night - The Underdog has got you covered! Set in a picturesque pedestrian street close to Thissio metro station, it's not only coffee shop, roastery and bar all in one, but also home to 3 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champions and one Runner-Up! There is really no limit to the professionalism and innovation you'll encounter here.

the undersog specialty coffee athens
the underdog specialty coffee athens

I met the 2016 champion Michalis Dimitrakopoulos during midday hours and given the heat I felt it was best to stick to coffee. He charmed me with a really tasty flat white, followed by a delicious cold brew. Their shop currently holds 9 different espresso roasts and 5 for filter. Depending on the day you'll be enjoying single origins from Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Ethiopia or Kenya. If you come hungry an extensive brunch menu will take care of your cravings!

Iraklidon 8
118 51 Athens

Mr. Bean Coffee Roasters

mr bean coffee roasters athens
mr bean coffee roaster athens

This coffee shop underwent some changes in recent years. At the time of my first visit to Athens in 2016 it was still associated with Kudu Coffee Roasters. This summer I found out they went separate ways and are now roasting under the name Mr. Bean Coffee Roasters. The person roasting behind the scenes is Konstantinos Perpinias, who had already worked with Taf during their early beginnings.

mr bean coffee roasters athens
mr bean coffee roasters athens

What stayed the same is the gorgeous interior and great location in Exarcheia! Lot's of natural light and outside seating make it a great hang out spot. Mr. Bean's house blend is a chocolatey brew from Brazil and Guatemala. Apart from espresso there are plenty of brewing options available, including cold brew, as well as sweet treats to accompany the coffee. And if you want to try my next recommendation, you jut have to cross the street!

Emmanouil Mpenaki 20
106 78 Athens

Taf Coffee

taf specialty coffee athens
Taf specialty coffee athens

Even though I feel like Taf Coffee needs no introduction, a guide to specialty coffee shops in Athens wouldn't be quite right without featuring them. The roastery was found by Yiannis Taloumis already in the 90's. It evolved from roasting the traditional Greek way to becoming a pioneer in bringing third wave coffee to Greece and finally to the capital. Taf was actually the first specialty coffee shop to open in Athens 2009.

With such a longstanding tradition and experience it is no wonder that Taf received recognition way beyond the Greek borders. Just this year their house espresso blend Rosebud won the bronze medal for the category espresso blend at the Australian International Awards 2017. It has a creamy feel and smooth body with caramel, chocolate and nutmeg aroma. Give it a try when you pass by. But not only the coffee is excellent! During my visit Konstantinos Iatridis, the winner of the Hellenic Barista Championship 2017, did a great job explaining the different coffees and helping me choose. :-)

Emmanouil Mpenaki 7
Athens 106 78

Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies

Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies specialty coffee athens

For those who want to try Taf coffee closer to the center of Athens, Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies is the perfect place! It is located close to Panepistimio metro station and serves exclusively coffee roasted by Taf. Their quality standards as well as professionalism are equally high and not even the humidity in the room is left to chance. I found their baked goods and Greek yogurt to be excellent as well.

Dragatsaniou 8
Athens 105 59


kaya specialty coffee athens

Kaya is definitely not an easy one to track down. It is located inside a shopping complex called "Stoa Bolani" close to Syntagma and is a take away espresso bar run by a nice bunch of coffee professionals. You'll not only find that the coffee is very inexpensive, Kaya also has the highest number of grinders for espresso I have ever seen in one shop. Apart from their house blend, a nice range of local roasters and their single origins is rotating in a total of five grinders. It is the perfect place to drink yourself through Athens specialty coffee scene in just one afternoon!

kaya specialty coffee athens
kaya specialty coffee athens

Voulis 7
105 62 Athens

In this city guide I've introduced the most central coffee places, many of them are easy to reach from Syntagma Square. There are more great specialty coffee shops not featured here, such as Mind the Cup and Manor House in the Peristeri neighbourhood or Nomad Roastery in Chalandri neighbourhood. They are included in the map below.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Rahel Goldmann

Rahel, aka Rachelle Katz, is a born Berliner and has worked as a barista as well as marketing and public relations manager for Father Carpenter. She recently started supporting the guys from Happy Baristas with implementing table service and bringing a new approach to customer communication to their coffee shop in Friedrichshain. Read about Rahel's approach on hospitality, her ambitions to compete and how she prepares for the upcoming German Aeropress and Barista Championships.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

Rahel, how did you get into coffee?

Sometime in 2013 I heard about a new café around the corner from where I was working, so I went to see what it, my friend called it ‘Australian coffee’, was. I placed my usual order: a Latte Macchiato. The barista told me he could make a café latte instead. I went for it and with the first sip, I was totally blown away by the flavours, it was like an awakening! The espresso was pleasingly acidic and I really enjoyed the smooth texture of the milk that tasted super sweet. Driven by the desire to figure out why this coffee was so different to anything I’ve known before, I started doing research. That's when I slowly began to understand that there’s way more to coffee then just the stuff that wakes me up in the morning. At the time I was managing Cupcake Berlin, which was a good job, but I was eager to learn more about specialty coffee. I went to undertake a beginner's barista course at the Berlin School of Coffee and got my first job at Double Eye. The foundation was set, but I wanted more, I wanted to progress. Shortly after, Father Carpenter started their ‘Rookie Program’, aiming to hire for attitude and train for skills. At that point I was studying Communication and Management at Uni and training to become a skilled specialty coffee barista. After only six months at Father Carpenter, I knew that coffee is what I want to do in my life. I left uni to take on a full-time position at Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers, which in hindsight was a fantastic decision.

After working at Father Carpenter for 1,5 years now, you're moving on to Happy Baristas. What's your role going to be?

At Father Carpenter I've become a spot on hospitality person. Marian and Roland from Happy Baristas saw potential in hiring someone like me as a front of house person. They are in the process of implementing table service and I'll be supporting them in their mission to make coffee more approachable – with strong communication skills. What we are trying to achieve over the course of the next 4 months is to create a more holistic customer experiences. As I am currently training for the Germany Barista Championship, Marian, who is a competitive barista, is a great person to learn from and be trained by. Working at Happy Baristas gives me the opportunity to train under less volume and in more detail. The café has just the right environment for that.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

What do you love about the two coffee shops, Father Carpenter and Happy Baristas?

At Father Carpenter you get the whole package: really good food, delicious coffee and excellent service. The philosophy behind it all, is to increase the quality of life – even if it’s just for these 30 minutes you’ve spend at the café. That's basically it in a nutshell.

Happy Baristas has the aim to make specialty coffee approachable, understandable and accessible for everyone. They're very strong with signature drinks to get people interested and involved, they’re offering a rich and diverse drink menu, not only to please the customer, but also to give the opportunity to access specialty coffee from multiple angles. Happy Baristas are generally very invested in and welcoming to specialty coffee newbies. They also put as much emphasis on nitro teas, to showcase the magnificent flavor profiles of tea and tea drinking in general - a beverage with a thousand year old history.

You've told me you're participating in German Aeropress Championship for the first time. How does the preparation look like?

For the Aeropress Championship you receive the competition coffee two weeks in advance, but you don’t know the varietal, the processing or the region it’s from. All I know at this point is that Five Elephant roasted it. When the actual competition takes place, you will get the same coffee but roasted at a different time in a different batch, so chances are it’ll react slightly different. Obviously other variables such as the water quality will be different too, luckily you can bring your practice water. You get 250g of roasted coffee to practice with and basically need to make it last until a few days before the competition, when it will have the same age as the coffee you'll compete with. It’s my first competition in coffee and of course I want to score at least in the top 3. The Aeropress Championship is a fun competition, which I take seriously regardless, but I’m also looking forward to the BBQ and drinks afterwards. ;-)

And then in winter in the German Barista Champions, how are you preparing for that one?

The Berlin Coffee Festival is coming up this weekend, so we will have a lot of green buyers, roasters and coffee professionals in town. This is very helpful for my coach Marian (Happy Baristas), my roaster Maren (Ernst Kaffeeröster) and myself. We’ll cup different coffees, experiment and hopefully gather some impressions that will feed into my routine. This is going to be the first step. I want to compete because I want to learn a lot and get better, but I also want to tell a story. So my competition’s theme is just as close to my heart as the divine coffee I’ll be using. Competing on a national level provides a good stage to talk about certain issues and challenges we are facing in the industry, so it'll be a good audience for the phenomenon I am trying to display and describe in my competition’s narrative. It'll have a certain political approach to coffee and women in coffee. I obviously can't give away too much at this point.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am moving to Australia in 2018, thanks to a scholarship, for Sommelier classes. Working in coffee made me understand the multiple layers of hospitality as well as experiencing flavours in a whole new way. First came coffee, then came wine, I’ve recently even started to enjoying Whiskey, for example! Once you learn to ‘listen to what you taste’, the entire food and beverage industry becomes such a wild beautiful playground. I am looking forward to learn more about every single aspect.

After the sommelier classes, whilst obviously working in coffee still, the next step could be to become a chef or a pastry chef, anything that extends my horizon basically. I’ve got another good 50 years on this planet (knocks on wood) and I don’t want to stop learning and improving ever. I can predict that I’m not going to get tired of engaging people in the greater beauty of taste and talking about a wholesome approach to the products we’re sourcing and consuming.

Thanks so much Rahel and best of luck for your competition goals!

Read more interviews from the series 'Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin'

and check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Karolina Kumstova

Karo is a barista and senior editor from the Czech Republic who has been living in Berlin for 2 years. She won the 2016 Brewers Cup in her home country after competing twice before in coffee competitions. Read about her lessons learned and her thoughts about Berlin’s specialty coffee scene.


Karo, what triggered your career in coffee?

I got into coffee through working in hospitality. My friend Adam Neubauer (2 times Czech barista champion), used to be my colleague in a café in the Czech Republic that was all about fluffy cappuccinos with chocolate on top. When he started reading books about coffee and doing things a bit differently, I was intrigued. This is how I got more interested in coffee. I like to get better at things and coffee allows you to improve by practice. You just have to do it again and again. At some point I moved to London to dive deeper into the coffee scene there and ended up staying for two years. What I liked best was the contact with the customers. It is what gives me energy. It can also put you down at times but I think customer service was always the most enjoyable part of it for me.

As barista at Tres Cabezas here in Berlin and senior editor at European Coffee Trip you get a good overview of local coffee scenes. How would you describe the third wave movement in Berlin as compared to other places you’ve been to?

I think Berlin has a long history with coffee for sure and I can’t really judge how it developed before I lived here, but I remember there was a firm circle of specialty coffee shops such as Chapter One, The Barn and Bonanza, when I first came here as a tourist. Within a year of me living here there were already 15 or so more and now it must be around 50. At first the scene seemed a little bit too sure of itself because there was not much competition (maybe it felt like this because I was coming from London), but in a short amount of time it got so much better than what I thought was possible. The competition definitely grew and pioneers noticed the change and grew with it.

There is a clear influence from foreigners who are moving here and open coffee shops. Every café is so distinct too. There is one run by refugees, another is run by one single person, there are coffee shops in fashion stores, others sell coffee out of a VW bus or sell cold brew from a basement, and so on. Berlin has a lot of room for experimentation and quality coffee is becoming more and more available outside of the stereotypical Aussie café. What’s pushing the scene forward for sure is the increasing competition. Berlin is a start-up city, there is space and it is welcoming creativity, which is awesome. In London, for example, it would be so much more expensive to start a business. In Berlin people experiment just because they want to bring something to the table, and it is affordable to do so. My prediction is that the third wave in Berlin isn’t stopping anytime soon.

You’ve just participated in the event Barista Connect. How was it?

It was amazing! It was such a wonderful event because of its size, there were maybe 40 of us, and I met new faces from all over the world. Very diverse coffee professionals attended and the event managed to make a connection to all areas of coffee and all professions - from coffee roasters to producers, growers, trainers, baristas and managers of cafés. Barista Connect provided a platform allowing us to learn from one another. Although everyone had a different background, we shared common experiences.

What do you think is the biggest difference between an event such as Barista Connect and coffee events where both men and women take part?

It is more about the atmosphere and the energy that is present there. As we were all women, apart from one guy, the event didn’t feel like the usual ones I attend where everyone needs to prove a point. It was more like a friendly discussion of ideas and viewpoints. There were no boundaries to what people talked about, what they asked and what their ideas and opinions were. No one cut each other short for example. It was like girls chatting over a cup of coffee. I don’t think I ever had been confronted that much with ‘men rule it all’ but it is more about the perception I guess. I felt like it was very easy to discuss in a friendly manner without anyone making you feel stupid. No judging, no comparing, because no one gives you that sense of doubt. I didn’t have it at least.

karolina kumstova barista

You’ve also participated in coffee competitions. Can you tell us about your experience?

In 2016 I won the Czech Brewers Cup. The year before that I came in 4th in the Czech Barista Championship, a competition I had participated in already 2013. When I competed for the second time I was living in London, I wanted to progress and the competition felt like a great opportunity to do so. I realized too late that it was all about feedback and criticism from friends and supporters. Instead, I did the preparation completely on my own. When the time came I packed my suitcase and flew to the Czech Republic without a team coming with me. I didn’t even know it was appropriate to ask for help and that a team effort was behind it.

When I won the 2016 Brewers Cup I had learned from my previous experience and came with support from Bara and Five Elephant. I can’t even imagine now doing it on my own. During the competition you forget the small details, like polishing your glasses, and your team will remind you of exactly those. During the world championship I was again pretty much on my own and can only say that it is not good to compete without support. From my perspective, people I see who are very successful are cooperative, seek feedback and structure as well as constructive criticism.

Has your career changed since winning the Czech Brewers Cup in 2016?

I got more followers on Instagram! ;-) I haven’t really taken that direction, I haven’t reached for better positions or anything like that. I do feel more confident talking about coffee though. The title supports your word, it’s like a proof of skills or something.  I guess it did have a positive effect of how people perceive me, but I wouldn’t brag about it in order to gain credibility.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am working full time for European Coffee Trip and it is going really well, even though everything I do is trial and error. My plan is to become a better editor. As much as I love coffee and serving people, I think I’ve finally found what I’m good at, which is why I would like to work as a writer only. I have a good way of expressing things on paper. For the future I would love to contribute to publishing a book and combine it with traveling and discovering new places.

This year I am also competing at the German Aeropress Championship to improve in something I am not so good at. But I actually enjoy the challenge much more than I enjoy winning.

Thank you so much Karo! Keeping my fingers crossed for the Aeropress Championship!

Read more interviews from the series 'Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin'

and check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Nora Šmahelová

Nora is originally from the Czech Republic and has been residing in Berlin since 1999. In 2002 she won the second national barista championships in Germany and has since then opened Chapter One and Coffee Profilers in Berlin as co-owner and judged numerous competitions. Read about her experience as a judge and other insightful aspects from her career in coffee.

nora smahelova

Nora, what triggered your career in coffee?

When I started to work in coffee, I was a student looking for any kind of part time job where I could earn money. So I ended up working at Einstein in 1999. At that time they were super advanced, just using Arabica beans, doing latte art and having their own roaster. Today this is kind of normal but for those times it was something special. I didn’t give a shit about what I would do to finance my studies.  I actually quit my job as a barista after the German championships. I was 21 and as I come from a very intellectual family, everyone had plans for my future, and I didn’t want to stay in the gastronomy sector.  And even coffee is gastronomy. I was craving input for my brain.

But now you’re here, so what happened?

I don’t know. The advantage of winning the competition was that there was a lot of publicity surrounding it. It’s not like I enjoyed walking around saying I was a barista champion but winning made it easier for me to get jobs. Like in 2003, I was invited to judge my first competition.

What are your current roles in the coffee industry?

I am co-owner of two Berlin based specialty coffee shops, Chapter One and Coffee Profilers, where I also work as a barista. For La Marzocco Deutschland I am their brand ambassador and social media representative since February and I recently also started working with the green coffee company Ally Coffee. I am one of their company members for Europe. I am working at fairs for Hario and am also a WCE representative and AST trainer.

And how did the idea come up for Chapter One and Coffee Profilers?

My business partner and me used to work in a coffee shop together. I was studying at the University of Arts at that time, while he was into Herbalism. When I started a job in product design, I realized I didn’t like it. As I still had the dream to do my own design work, we were thinking about opening our own place while doing other things on the side. We opened Chapter One in 2011.

Coffee Profilers came later, in 2015. It is a project with different business partners and one of the results of me diving deeper into coffee without really planning on it.

nora smahelova chapter one

What is the philosophy behind Chapter One and Coffee Profilers?

When we started with Chapter One, I wouldn’t say we had a vision, but we wanted to focus just on coffee and especially filter. Therefore, we have many filter coffees on the menu and all kinds of different brewing methods. The most important aspect of it is our unique team. We try to do coffee seriously, but are unpretentious at the same time. For us personality is more important than experience, because you can teach everyone how to make coffee but you cannot teach the right mindset.

The most important for me is the customer service. We try to understand the needs of the customer, keep a low profile and cater to everyone. This means though, although we change the espresso every day, that some of our customers don’t ever notice a difference.

It is kind of the same for coffee profilers.  I did the design for both places and the idea was to create the design according to the available space, which is why they are very different from each other.

You’ve just participated in the event Barista Connect, a coffee event for women, and were also a speaker. How was it?

I felt stressed because I had to give a speech and I don’t know if I will ever feel well prepared for something like that. I was also doing cuppings for Ally Coffee and gave workshops for La Marzocco.  I like the idea behind Barista Connect and it was interesting to be a part of it and to contribute. I liked that there was a very mixed audience, including women from origin countries.

What do you think is the biggest difference between an event such as Barista Connect and coffee events where both men and women take part?

Honestly, I don’t know. It depends on your personality I guess. I would say it is exactly the same. For me, it is actually a big advantage to be a women in the coffee industry. I never had problems. Sure, some countries are more difficult than others. In some Mediterranean countries, for example, people may have a different mentality. If you know how to handle it, it’s not a problem.

You’ve won the German Barista Championships in 2002. Have you participated in other competitions?

No. I really didn’t care about coffee that much when I participated. I took part in the regional competition in Berlin out of fun, where I came in 2nd. The same goes for the national competition. I had fun and won an espresso machine on top of that, which was wow! The other perk was a trip to Oslo to participate in the world barista championships.

What competitions do you judge and how do you experience competitions from a judge’s perspective?

In 2003 I started judging national competitions in German speaking countries. At some point I wanted to improve and the obvious next step was the international judges certification. I became a WBC certified judge in 2011. I was almost more nervous than the competitors because there’s such pressure to decide if something is good or bad. It took a long time to get used to having to judge and decide. Often when I am sitting in the judges’ panel I am thinking: “Why am I not competing?”.

I was a technical judge first, moved on to sensory and then became a WCE representative. In order for a country to organize a legal competition, they have to invite a representative who makes sure it is all going according to the rules. It’s interesting when I get to go to countries I haven’t been to before. It`s broadening my own horizon by getting to know new people and different cultures. In September I am flying to Dubai to judge for example, a new experience for me.

chapter one specialty coffee berlin

Do you have any advice for baristas who want to compete?

It is mostly about reading the rules. I see many baristas who have the potential, but it is important to invest time and internalize the rules. If you want to win you have to stick to the rules and understand them and have a lot of discipline.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to do more of my own projects, like making ceramics or organizing an exhibition for my drawings. I’d also like to keep learning and improving. This is why I started working with Ally to learn more about green coffee. It is a totally new perspective and I am excited to dig into it.

Thank you Nora!

Read more interviews from the series 'Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin'

and check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Prague off the beaten path - Specialty coffee shops and more

As Prague has one of the most beautiful historic centers in the world, you'll never be wandering the streets alone. Trust me, I've tried! Not even at 5:00 in the morning I had Charles Bridge or Old Town Square to myself. When you get tired of walking with the masses take the opportunity to venture onward for a more local experience! Neighbourhoods such as Vršovice, Vinohrady, Karlín and Holešovice have transitioned into hangout spots for local hipsters and artists who enjoy having a quality cup of coffee in creative and distinct spaces. In this article I'll share my favourite specialty coffee discoveries and a foodie hotspot off the beaten track.

You can find my recommendations for specialty coffee in the center of Prague here.


vnitroblock specialty coffee prague

Prepare yourself to be completely blown away by the creative and contemporary atmosphere of Vnitroblock! Yes, it is located off the beaten track in the Northern district Holešovice, but so worth the extra mile! The industrial complex opened in November 2016 and is concept store, dance studio, cinema, exhibition space and coffee shop in one. Fashion lovers will appreciate the carefully curated collection of pieces by local and European designers and for the environmentally conscious (hopefully that is all of us) there is a great selection of natural and sustainable products displayed. You could easily spend your entire holiday here! And while these are already good enough reasons to visit, the coffee exceeds every expectation!

vnitroblock specialty coffee prague

Vnitroblock are working together with Nordbeans, a coffee roastery based in Liberec in the north of the Czech Republic. The espresso beans Ondas da Mantiqueria from Brazil make a mean cappuccino boosting chocolate and nutty flavours. But what did I spot behind the counter? A selection of Caffènation's finest beans all the way from Antwerp. Vnitroblock are going to feature Caffènation as a guest roaster soon, the barista told me.

Interestingly, Vnitroblock was opened by the same people that run one of Prague's hippest coffee spots, Kavarna Co Hleda Jmeno, in Smíchov district. We had to see it, of course, but it didn't strike the same nerve with me as Vnitroblock did. They too serve coffee roasted by Nordbeans.

Tusarova 791/31
170 00 Prague


ye's specialty coffee shop prague

Just a few tram stops from Vnitroblock, Ye's is located in Letna, a part of Holešovice that is nestled on top of a hill. Ye's is the kind of place that allows you to reconnect with your inner child while doing grown up things like sitting down for a coffee on what looks like grandma's old armchair. During our visit pieces of playful art were plastered along washed out walls that still carry a hint of colour. The art displayed is changing from time to time and you might have a completely different impression. But what stays is the vintage look coupled with a contemporary approach to making coffee.

A friendship between the owners and staff of Bonanza has inspired their choice of beans. Since it opened in spring 2015 Ye's is solely featuring Bonanza Coffee Roasters. Apart from espresso based drinks there is batch brew on the menu as well as the V60 and Aeropress.

Letenské nám. 5
170 00 Prague

Kavárna Místo

kavarna misto specialty coffee prague

Místo is a breakfast mecca and coffee temple run by the oldest specialty coffee roastery in Prague: Doubleshot Coffee Company. It is located in Dejvice, a neighbouring district of Letna. When we were asked about places on our list by locals, absolutely everyone agreed that Místo is a must! And they were right. The menu pairs traditional Czech cuisine with international favourites, such as pancakes, avocado toast and English breakfast. As far as specialty coffee goes you're definitely in good hands! The summer espresso Tam Dem that is currently in the grinder consists of two microlots from Bella Vista beneficio, a farm located in Antigua, Guatemala. And for filter the choices include a Panamanian Geisha from the Santa Clara region that will feel like an explosion of tropical fruit in your mouth.

kavarna misto specialty coffee prague

Bring some patience on weekends, Místo is very popular with locals and expats, and therefore especially crowded during brunch hours. While the great food and coffee selection make every wait worth while, the interior is definitely something for the eye too. The concrete floors and counter paired with wooden cladding and furniture create a sophisticated atmosphere. Even though the coffee shop is huge, you can still find a cosy corner to unwind.

Bubenečská 12
160 00 Prague

Můj šálek kávy

Můj šálek kávy specialty coffee prague

The sister café of Kavárna Místo is Můj šálek kávy in the heart of Karlin district. It is another favourite run by Doubleshot Coffee Company and offers a similar selection of great breakfast and coffee options. The outfit is a different one though, characterized by a yellow counter and a large mural on the inside.

muj salek kavy specialty coffee prague
muj salek kavy specialty coffee prague

Even though Můj šálek kávy featured roasts by Doubleshot from the start, it was initially run by Roland Lodr. When he decided to move on to other projects, the guys from Doubleshot took over, further contributing to the transformation of Karlin district. Today, the former blue-collar neighborhood sees factories converting into art and design spaces, making it a popular place for students and young people to reside.

Křižíkova 386/105
186 00 Prague

Eska - for cafecionados who are also foodies

eska specialty coffee prague

Combining a specialty coffee shop, bakery and a fine dining restaurant into one concept? Why not? The Ambiente Restaurant Group has dared what is still hard to find in other European capitals. With the opening of Eska in a former factory building in Karlin they've made a point: if you serve coffee in a restaurant, shouldn't it receive the same attention as your food? The standard for quality is set equally high for all three parts of the hybrid structure, which is why the brewing equipment at Eska is top notch. A Victoria Arduino Black Eagle is guarding the downstairs counter together with a couple of cold drippers, while the upstairs brew bar is equipped with Areopress and V60. Eska is featuring Nordbeans, a roastery from the North of the Czech Republic, that I had already tried and loved at Vnitroblock. I cannot tell you about the brunch, although I hear it is fantastic, but the dish I had for dinner (Roasted rabbit, beetroot, currants and mead) was s-p-e-c-t-a-c-u-l-a-r! Come here for the coffee but make sure you do come hungry!

Pernerova 49
186 00 Prague

Check out my other travel and coffee guide for the center of Prague!

A guide to specialty coffee shops and cafes in the center of Prague

My recent weekend getaway to Prague with fellow blogger Harriet who runs Fräulein Anker has been a fantastic experience! In 48 hours we sipped all the specialty coffee we could drink, photographed from sunrise to sunset, had delicious food and found the most creative accommodation on top of that! Let me share my favourite discoveries with you from this weekend of wonder, starting from third wave coffee shops and cafes!

Check out my guide to specialty coffee shops in Prague off the beaten path here.

prague old town

Discovering old town and central Prague one specialty coffee shop at a time

When thinking of the local coffee culture three words come to mind: thriving, diverse and inspiring! On my speed date with Prague's coffee scene I managed to visit 10 specialty coffee shops that I can wholeheartedly recommend. While a fair amount of coffee places can be found in the center Prague, it is well worth it to wander through some of the up and coming surrounding neighbourhoods. As you are most likely to start your visit in the old town though, let me begin by recommending the closest ones.

Onesip Coffee

onesip specialty coffee shop prague

Onesip is located close to the Church of St. Castulus in the historic center of Prague since April 2016. And one sip is all it takes to fall in love with this place! Starting from a great selection of beans roasted by Round Hill Roastery (from Midsomer Norton in the UK) to its pronounced essentialism, it is a place to indulge in the flavours of coffee without any distractions.

onesip specialty coffee prague

The two friends Adam and Zdenek who own Onesip worked with Roundhill from the start and brought in a killer Kees van der Westen to bring out the best of the beans. Apart from espresso based drinks, hand brew and batch brew filter coffee is also available. We shared a batch brewed Ethiopian natural with distinct notes of dried fruit and plum but I couldn't stop eyeing the ice cold espresso tonic most people were ordering that day. A must-try summer special!

onesip specialty coffee shop prague
onesip specialty coffee prague

You may linger on one of the few stools by the window or just join the barista at the counter for a chat. The compact space makes it easy to communicate with other guests too. Community is very important to them, Jaroslav tells us. He was working the counter the day we passed by. "Even if it is just for 30 seconds, while we steam milk for instance, we'll always have a few words for our customers." Jaroslav is a great guy to encounter at Onesip! He runs the local blog 365 Cups of Coffee and knows the city like the back of his hand. Jaroslav is also starting a new roastery with some friends by the name Candy Cane. They'll be roasting their first samples in a couple of weeks.

Haštalská 755/15
110 00 Prague

Original Coffee

original specialty coffee prague

Original Coffee has been around for 3 years at their current location in proximity to the Mustek Metro stop and close to Bethlehem Square. Their first coffee venture was an espresso bar for two years before that, but it was outside of the center in Vinohrady. The roastery and coffee shop is a project run by mamacoffee, one of the first specialty roasters in Eastern Europe and founders of the Prague Coffee Festival.

original specialty coffee roastery prague

Original has a classic yet urban vibe to it, not lastly because of the cool artwork displayed and the Polaroid plastered wall in the back. It is definitely a place that digital nomads will appreciate due to the ample space with plenty of tables to work from. Something I found really special was the artistic packaging of their coffee beans stemming from a partnership with local illustrators, who give every package an original, creative look. From their menu I chose a flat white made with beans from Los Pinos in Nicaragua, a farm located at an altitude of 1100 - 1200m with a high ecological consciousness. The coffee was packed with flavours of hazelnut and nougat and worked well with the milk. The packaging for this one was just beautifully done, a drawing emphasizing the connection between picking coffee and drinking it.

original specialty coffee prague

Betlémská 12
110 00 Prague

Super Tramp Coffee

super tramp specialty coffee prague

If you don't mind getting lost in the mysterious courtyards of Prague, then Super Tramp Coffee is your place! It has been hiding in the plain center for 18 months now and its discovery is an adventure on its own. We entered through the passageway from Opatovická street (not before walking by at least a dozen times) and discovered an oasis of calm with exactly the right soundtrack playing. Only few places give me goosebumps when I enter, but Super Tramp was definitely one of them. While sipping on a cappuccino, I listened to Replica by the XX and thought for a moment that this is what heaven on earth must look like! Plus, the cappuccino with espresso from El Paraiso, Colombia, roasted by the Hungarian favourite Casino Mocca, convinced with delicious black tea, orange blossom and caramel notes.

super tramp specialty coffee prague

Super Tramp has a bigger sister called 'I Need Coffee' and while I didn't manage to check it out, I was told that it is also a loyal fan of Casino Mocca.

super tramp specialty coffee
super tramp specialty coffee

Opatovická 160/18
110 00 Prague

EMA Espresso Bar

ema espresso bar specialty coffee prague

EMA has been around since 2013 and is located a 10 minute walk from the central train station. Working the counter you'll see skilled, highly professional and communicative baristas that don't shy away from sharing their passion with customers through meaningful interaction. The coffee shop has a cosmopolitan vibe to it without being pretentious. The modern interior and communal setup with a long table in the middle of the room are definitely state of the art!

ema espresso bar prague
ema specialty coffee bar prague

Surprisingly, we discovered that EMA has been featuring JB Kaffee from Dachau, Germany, from the start. To keep things interesting, almost every month a different guest roaster brings a fresh smell of ground coffee to the espresso bar. Among them were popular names such as Drop Coffee, Casino Mocca and Koppi. At the moment Craft House Coffee from the UK are occupying the second grinder. Your cravings for drip coffee will be satisfied by either batch brew, V60 or Aeropress while espresso is made on a La Marzocco 3-group Strada EP. Now all you have to do is to order your favourite, stretch out your legs and enjoy!

Na Florenci 1420/3
110 00 Prague

Brewbar at Náplavka farmers market

brewbar specialty coffee prague

Every Saturday, no matter the weather, you'll find Radek and Jiri running a stand called Brewbar at Náplavka farmers market. And they've been doing so for the last 5 years! They are inseparable, Jiri tells me, and what brings them together is a deep appreciation for coffee in its purest form. Needless to say you won't find any milk based drinks or espresso! Instead, the duo will hand brew the finest filter in town and fully include you in the process. From smelling the freshly ground coffee to immersing in a conversation about what's in your cup, it is all part of the experience!

brewbar specialty coffee prague
brewbar specialty coffee prague

Jiri won the Czech aeropress championship in 2015, while Radek followed in his footsteps one year later in 2016. Rest assured, that you are in very capable hands! There is always something new to discover as the featured roasters are changing on a weekly basis. Since the duo's mission is to spark the curiosity of customers, there's always one premium on the menu. I had the pleasure to share a Panama Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda roasted by Coffee Collective with Jiri, which is not a coffee you easily come by in Europe!

While hipster coffee shops pop up all over Prague, Radek and Jiri prefer to go against the current and focus on what is really important to them: quality coffee that excites people! And while there is a trend towards batch brew, you'll never ever find it here. Infact, Jiri tells me he hates it. "There is beauty in inconsistency and inefficiency!" I definitely agree and forget all about time as we sip on the sweet, floral Geisha and continue our discussion.

128 00 Prague
Saturdays 08:00 - 14:00

Where to stay in Prague

Chill Apartments

Chill Apartments is the perfect place for a stay in Prague as it feels like a home away from home. After being on our feet for 14 hours and longer we loved to come back here to take a rest. The beds were so comfy that we had a hard time to get out ;-) From the gorgeous design, the fully equipped apartments that come in different sizes and the central location: if you’re ready to treat yourself to the coolest apartment hotel in Prague, then this is it! Check here for the latest offers and availability!

Sokolská 1614/64
120 00 Nové Město, Prague

chill apartments prague

Check out my other travel and coffee guide for Prague off the beaten path!

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Nicole Battefeld

Nicole is head barista at Röststätte and runner up at the German Barista Championship 2016. She has a fierce passion for competing and is constantly working on improving her skills. In our interview she talks about her preparation for competitions, her experience on stage and (spoiler alert) the female latte art throw down Röststätte is organizing in September this year.

nicole battefeld röststätte

Nicole, how did you get into coffee?

I started working in a small coffee shop in my hometown after I finished high school. It wasn’t specialty but it had a La Marzocco GB5. I trained myself in making coffee and taught myself latte art, which wasn’t common in my region and a 100km radius at all. Because I dedicated myself to something no one else did, people got interested and my network expanded. This allowed me to dive deeper into coffee.

Currently, you are working at Röststätte. What are your main responsibilities?

I am head of the bar, I am roasting and as I learned a lot about the espresso machines we sell I represent the Black Eagle and Victoria Arduino at conventions. I also give barista courses, basically teaching people how to use coffee machines, do latte art and trigger their interest in specialty coffee. Once I got more confident in the whole barista scene, I also started competing.

What makes Röststätte unique? What’s the philosophy?

I love the diversity! You can be like an octopus because of their concept to have a café, shop, roastery and barista school all under one roof. Röststätte operates on an extremely professional level and it allows its staff to make amazing connections. I want to do more stuff than working behind the bar, so it is the best place to do that. Also I get a lot of support from the owners.

nicole battefeld röststätte

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

The first name that pops into my head is Erna Tosberg because she won the German championship twice and is now judging as well. She is the first female that I met and saw competing and she was the person that inspired me to compete as well. I’d also mention Nora Šmahelová because she is always a person I can go to as she is very supportive and helpful.

 You were runner up at the national barista championships 2016 in Germany. How did you prepare for the competition and what is it like to be on that stage?

The preparation was all over the place because I had never done anything like it before. The owners of Röststätte and I formed a team and wanted to perform as professionally as possible. So I started watching all the videos of the last 10 years of competitors, even on an international scale. I observed routines, didactic and wanted to internalize the rules. It was extremely frustrating because a lot of the times I had no idea what I was doing. What helped me the most was other people coming in, seeing my routine and criticizing it. Great feedback was what made me improve every day. I never thought about getting sponsors before so that was a new opportunity I explored.

Being on stage was amazing because I had done my routine so many times that it was kind of flowing. I felt super nervous but also very comfortable showing my product because I was confident about it. The feedback from people that saw me on stage and how supportive they were was overwhelming. I recommend everyone working in coffee to have this experience as you got absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re doing it for the first time people are not going to be hard on you. But this means for the coming years I'll have to do much better!

nicole battefeld röststätte berlin
nicole battefeld röststätte berlin

That brings me to a question that is often discussed in the specialty coffee industry: the equal representation of gender in competitions. Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

I think a lot of women lack the confidence to stand up for what they believe in. And I think this is not just the case in coffee. As a women you go on stage and people are more likely to judge you than men. What I see at latte art throw downs is that women usually appear very quiet and end up surprising people.

I think I am just the kind of person to put myself out there. In the past I had jobs where I had to work my way through and if I would have been shy to speak my mind I might not be where I am now. I had to push for everything I achieved, nobody came and handed things to me. It doesn’t come easy, you need to work hard for it! I am very determined in that way, if I have a goal I want to achieve I am not bothered by what somebody else might think.

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved/what could be improved?

If you speak to big companies I’ve noticed they particularly ask for a male barista to represent them. Especially at conventions I see women rather working as hostesses serving while men are running the counter. What could improve the situation is to keep on pushing for more and keep on aiming higher. Coffee is such a huge market and people sometimes don’t have a clear idea of how they could fit in. I see especially that women are not always aware of all the opportunities this industry presents. Wholesale for coffee filters, just to name one example, is probably a niche not everyone would think of right away. I encourage you to just go out there and make a name for yourself.

Something else I’ve experienced is that men would often come up to me wanting to show me how it’s done. I learned to say: “Thank you for telling me, but I didn’t ask for your opinion!”. That usually does the trick. My advice for the guys: It is just coffee! We are not changing the world, don’t take yourself too seriously ;)

What are your aspirations for the future?

The first one is the Barista and Farmer project which I am participating in. It gives 10 people the opportunity to travel to a coffee farm in Colombia and work there. So few baristas get the chance to go to the origin. Seeing how coffee is grown, harvested and processed with my own eyes will help me deal even better with my roast profiles as my knowledge up to now is only theoretical. I’d love your support, just click on the link and vote for me!

At Röststätte we are organizing the second all female latte art throw down in Berlin. It will take place on 2 September from 15:00 during the Berlin Coffee Festival and you are all invited! The first one was such a great experience as it brought women from the local industry together. This is why we wanted to keep on extending this network and encourage women to compete.

Another project of mine is the Tiroler Kaffeemeisterschaft in Innsbruck taking place the third weekend of September, for which I am actually practicing right now. I do it just for the sake of being on stage. This is a good example of how seriously I take competing! Even though it doesn’t nominate you for any future competition, I still try to do it in the same way that I would prepare for a world championship. I got sponsors, great coffee picked out and music. My training time is even one month longer than last year. I just really really really wanna win that thing!

And of course I will take part in next year’s barista championships in Germany, and hopefully Amsterdam after that. I like the barista competition because it is so much of a show and you are free to show your personality. You shouldn’t underestimate how big the stage is! Even if there are only 30 people in the room, they might turn out to be the most important people in your career.

nicole battefeld latte art

Just out of curiosity, do you have a favourite brewing method?

I can’t say because the more you try the more you realize how massive this field is. There are so many different ways of brewing coffee. There is no such thing as the best coffee, but in general, I love how we are so flexible in how we prepare our coffee. Water temp, ratios, grinder settings - it is so beautiful. You never get to the point where you get tired because you never cease to learn.

Thank you Nicole for only positive vibes and a great interview! Wish you the best of luck for future competitions!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Meet Rodolfo Ruffatti Batlle: Green specialty coffee importer from El Salvador

Rodolfo is a green specialty coffee importer from El Salvador working directly with farms and supporting them in cultivating coffee. He buys coffee from local farmers and sells it to roasteries in Europe. His family has been cultivating coffee for more than a hundred years, which basically means Rodolfo has coffee in his DNA. After making Berlin his home for 10 years he recently moved to Barcelona. For 4-5 months per year he goes home to El Salvador for the harvest season.

I met Rodolfo at a cupping session lead by Assembly Coffee from the UK and had the pleasure to try one of his coffee. Since I had never spoken to a coffee importer directly, I jumped on the opportunity to pick his brain about living the dream of working both at origin and in Europe.

 Forgive our faces, this was Sunday morning and we were trying to look awake.

Forgive our faces, this was Sunday morning and we were trying to look awake.

Rodolfo, you’re in El Salvador 3-4 months per year. How does your routine look like during this period?

It changed a lot over the years. Before, I was working at my family’s mill, buying fresh cherries, picking them up and bringing them to our mill. When I separated from the family company, I started buying parchment or dry cherry as well. I still do the processing for some coffees, like my dad's coffees or some friends'. We have raised beds at our farms and are renting a mill to do our own processing.

For detailed examinations I have a lab in the city where we can do analysis of coffee, like checking sensorial and water activity, humidity and density. We go out and teach farmers how to dry their own coffee and empower them to be the flavor creators. This adds value to their coffee and decentralizes production. El Salvador used to produce much more coffee than it does now. It’s not enough to be profitable anymore, as big mills, because of all their costs, need a lot of volume to be profitable, and the volume is hard to find in a country with decreased production . Lots of mills went broke.

How come coffee production has decreased so drastically in El Salvador?

Production went down for many reasons. During the civil war, one strategy of guerilla fighters was to destroy agricultural production so people would get desperate and join the communist revolution. When the center left won the elections in the 80's, they wanted to do all things the guerilla were fighting for so they don’t have a reason to keep on killing people. They took away peoples farms, nationalized the banks so money wouldn't be concentrated in a few hands and nationalized export companies so they could no longer sell to international clients. Being forced to sell your coffee to the government provided no incentive to produce great coffees.

You’ve worked in coffee most of your life. Have you experienced any changes in climate that have significantly influenced the harvest? What are some of the biggest challenges farmers are facing?

We’ve seen cupping scores go down due to climate change. 5-6 years ago some of the highest farms around Santa Ana volcano were cupping at 89 points. The same farms we see cupping at 86.5 points max. these days. Last year a heavy drought affected the harvest and most farms were cupping two points lower than normal.

Other challenges farmers are facing in terms of diseases are leaf rust outbreaks and the Anthracnose fungus, which affects leaves, twigs and berries.

Also, commodity prices are low and farmers lack access to finance as private banks don’t lend money to farmers. Government loans have high interest rates. Basically, the coffee mill becomes like the bank and finances the production, then the cherry pays for the mill. It’s a downward cycle and farmers end up loosing their farm. Lots actually switch to other crops, like avocado, as they are more profitable.

Can you give support to farmers and help dealing with this?

We send specialists that give tips on farming and we're teaching farmers processing, as honey and naturals can improve their cup. Sometimes I provide loans to some farmers.

Do you always work with the same farmers?

Yes. I’ve also been working with some farms in Colombia and am starting to do so in Ethiopia as well. Just to give you an idea, the last container I’ve shipped had 23 micro lots in it.

That sounds like a lot of work! Can you do all this alone?

I have a team set up in El Salvador and am setting one up in Colombia as well.

How do you decide which coffee to feature?

First, I was trying to bring in only coffees that cupped 86 and above. But then I realized there is a wider market for lower cupping coffees. I started doing processing consulting to help farmers get the most out of their coffee. I noticed big importers work with a farmer one year and drop him the next if the cupping score lowered. That made me decide to find a home for people’s coffees.

What is the highest rated coffee you sell?

I don’t like the whole scoring thing. But the Kenya variety we have in El Salvador is really appreciated. Rubens Gardelli scored second place in the Brewers Cup with it.

To how many European countries do you sell your coffee and how do you choose your business partners?

I am selling in most of Europe. When it comes to business partners, I work with people I like and focus on those that know what they are doing. But I also like to support new roasters if they are nice. Anyhow, I am trying not to be a big supermarket for coffee, so it’s a lot of word of mouth.

 Rodolfo with Assembly Coffee at Markthalle Neun in Berlin Kreuzberg

Rodolfo with Assembly Coffee at Markthalle Neun in Berlin Kreuzberg

What do you think are important qualities one should have when doing your job?

It sounds a bit cheesy but you need to have the courage. When I started my business, a big company told me not to do it. I mean, I think if you are smart about it any coffee producer could do what I do.

It was easy to learn about the logistic side of things and how to work with shipping companies. It is easy information to access if you really want to but putting it all together is hard. Financing it is a limiting factor as most farmers need to be paid immediately. I don’t work with banks, so covering the costs is a challenge.

Gracias, Rodolfo!
More info about Rodolfo's company at:

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Audie

I knew I had to talk to the girls at Black Sheep as soon as I stepped into their amazing coffee shop and my eye caught letters hanging from the walls spelling: the future is female! This strong message really spoke to me as it aligns with the purpose of my diversity project. So it happened that Audie, one of two co-owners, sat down with me for a chat and we spoke about Black Sheep's unique philosophy, the organisation of an all female latte art competition and more!

audie black sheep berlin

Audie, what triggered your career in coffee?

It is weird actually, I never thought I would love making coffee so much. In Australia it’s such a big scene and you always have access to beautiful cafes and great coffee. It’s a big part of life. In Berlin it was a lot more difficult to find that kind of coffee scene and environment. A few of my friends started working in specialty coffee, which is how I learned a bit more about it. I experienced the growth of the coffee scene in Berlin, was amazed by the history and finally started working as a barista in a specialty coffee shop. I really started to put myself out there, went to cuppings, learned a lot and fell in love with it.

Our own coffee journey started when we opened Black Sheep in January 2015. Actually, I was going to leave Berlin at some point but my friend Lucy came to Berlin from the US where she learned to make Kombucha. She convinced me to stay with the idea to be the first ones to sell home-made Kombucha to Cafés in Berlin. The first months we shared a kitchen space and were biking around berlin with Kombucha in our bags. When the space became too small we started talking about what sort of place we wanted to have and the idea for Black Sheep started to form. We are both crazy about vegan food and love to try new experiences together.

What's your role at Black Sheep?

I am co-owner of Black Sheep and also the main barista. Apart from that I still do Kombucha delivery, am the German liaison person as I speak the language, do paperwork and give training to our staff.

What makes Black Sheep unique? What’s the philosophy?

We are very strongly supportive of females, LGBTQIA friendly and 100% vegan. It is our focus to reduce waist, not overproduce food and create as little rubbish as possible. Our food is always fresh and different. We make a certain amount per day and when it’s finished it’s finished. Also, at Black Sheep we are very flexible with regards to customer service, especially if you come to us with food allergies. Whatever request you might have, we will go the extra mile. With this we are addressing the lack of good service in Berlin. Also, there are not a lot of places that have good coffee AND food for vegans, which is why we wanted to provide both. Our grinders hold two different roasts, one with light roast and one with dark roast and we have 6-7 plant based milks to accompany these. You can mix and match as you please. If you have any questions about our coffee we’ll explain and share our knowledge. Eventually, we are planning to organize workshops to teach about coffee.

audie black sheep coffee

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

Probably Masamichi Kaji, also known as Sammy, who was my trainer. He is incredibly gifted in terms of his coffee skills and has an amazing palette. He was so lovely, no ego, no arrogance, we had nice conversations about coffee and I never felt bad to ask him anything.

Have you ever competed in a coffee competition?

With Sarah from Home we created the first all female latte art competition in Berlin, which was held in February 2017. More than 65 people came and we had 12 participants. I was a judge then but next time I will compete too as we are planning to organize many more! The feedback we had from participants was that it was so nice to have a space to compete amongst only fellow female baristas. Everyone was amazingly supportive and cheered along every contender. So often In these industries we are faced with a room full of men, with judges who are mostly men and lots of ego in the atmosphere. It feels intimidating and proving yourself amongst your peers is kind of scary.

Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

I think in general women are conditioned to support, not to compete. It comes from such a young age and without realizing it we encourage boys to try new things and tell them it is okay to fail while we tell girls it is better not to try and it is definitely not okay to fail. This creates the fear of not doing something right. Maybe women lack the confidence to compete or they prefer to fly under the radar to save face. As women we are so often taught to compromise rather than confront.

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved or what could be improved?

At Black Sheep we will continue to support the underdogs of the industry and organize events to help push this further. I think it is important to promote open-mindedness around equal opportunities for everyone and to create an environment where woman have a voice. We would like to create a space where we can work on changing the industry together. All too often women are fighting the battle alone, or worse against one another, but if we can build a network or society where our confidence can be boosted, our talents praised and our voices heard then we are heading in the right direction.

What are your aspirations for the future?

Hmm, not sure yet. Maybe some where down the track a larger place or the opportunity to roast, but I guess in general we just want to push the quality of vegan food and food in Berlin.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee and brewing method?

I love filter coffee brewed with a Chemex for a clean and bright coffee. It accentuates the base flavor of the coffee, which can really shine through if brewed well. My favourite countries of origin are Rwanda and Colombia.

Thanks Audie!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Tansel Özbek

Tansel is a born Berliner, co-owner of Refinery High End Coffee and specialty coffee enthusiast. I talked to her about changing careers, Refinery's unique philosophy and fostering equality in the specialty coffee industry.

Tansel Özbek Refinery Coffee Berlin

Tansel, what triggered your career in coffee?

My professional and personal path changed over time and so did my goals and visions for the future. I started out with a more traditional education route and obtained university degrees in economics with a focus on management and team work. It wasn’t until later in life that my passion for coffee was born! First, I worked several years as a coach and counsellor at the German employment agency. It was my mission to motivate young people to do something they really care about, which ultimately inspired me to start over and do something I’m passionate about. I’ve always had an interest in hospitality in a broad sense which later bundled with a passion for high quality specialty coffee and gastronomy. When the idea to start a coffee business was born, I knew I wanted to be part of the third wave movement. I have high expectations for myself and am a perfectionist. Therefore, it wasn't going to be just any coffee shop, but rather one that aligns with my values, a place where guests know they are in good hands. I see a great link between coffee, connecting people and practicing rituals in daily life. The process of preparing and serving the perfect coffee of the day – extremely refined and polished – was what motivated me to become part of the specialty coffee scene and I was determined to bring coffee to the next level.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your role at Refinery?

I am one of two co-founders of Refinery High End Coffee and that means I’m always multitasking. Every day brings many new discoveries, lessons and knowledge to learn while we develop our team, products and service. I endlessly share my caffeine filled routine with my team and consciously try to melt the hierarchy or cliché attitude about precise roles. My favourite part of day is when I serve coffee to our guests, have a chat with them and together we create a great atmosphere at Refinery.
refinery specialty coffee shop berlin

What makes Refinery unique? What is the philosophy behind it?

Refinery High End Coffee stands for the highest standards within the specialty coffee scene. We collaborate with local and international roasters who have established a very close connection with the farmers, support the community and bring out the positive impact on the society. Transparency, sustainability and knowing the origins are values that drive Refinery. We are thrilled to currently serve beans roasted by Norway’s famous Tim Wendelboe, which is a novelty in Berlin’s third wave coffee scene. One of the most exciting developments is our unique approach aiming towards innovating specialty coffee retail. We want to bring specialty coffee closer to the people, into their homes, so they only have the best coffee and they know how to prepare it themselves. We do believe in consciousness and awareness of what is purchased and consumed, which requires a consideration of the origins, where the coffee came from, who cultivated it and how the local communities are set up.

Our focus on quality also extends to the tools we use for brewing and serving coffee. Espresso is prepared on a three-group Keys van der Westen Spirit, selected for its accurate temperature control and pressure profiling per group head. A set of Mazzer Robur grinders preps coffee for the Spirit while a Mahlkönig EK 43 provides the perfect grind for a line of Hario V60s.

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

The Swedish barista champion Anne Lunell, co-founder of Koppi Fine Coffee is extremely ambitious and I think it’s great how she built up her business. She is a great example for a woman with a strong focus on goals and future achievements. Joanna Alm and Stephen Leighton, coffee entrepreneurs and owners of Drop Coffee, constantly highlight the transparency and sustainability importance in specialty coffee while crafting to perfection their preferred taste profile. They are great travelers also and that is always very inspiring!

You’ve mentioned the barista champion Anne Lunell, who has both competed and judged in coffee competitions. That brings me to a topic that is often discussed in the specialty coffee industry: the equal representation of gender in competitions. Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

Leadership, entrepreneurship and business development are commonly perceived as male dominated fields, however, I am gratefully excited to see, hear and experience that this is changing. Berlin is a great place to reverse stereotypes, have challenging discussions around gender issues and encourage a redefinition of discourses. Looking at the future of women in the specialty coffee scene more particularly, I am certain that surfacing achievements by all members of the specialty coffee industry will support a change in paradigm sooner or later.  

tansel özbek refinery coffee berlin

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved or what could be improved?

Achieving equality in any society starts from the individual: it takes self-reflection, personal and interpersonal analysis and strong values in both personal and professional fields. Although one person alone cannot create change, he or she can inspire others to contribute to it. As a result, exposure to public discussions, debates and open storytelling about personal experiences is key. People are stronger together, so if we want to drive change it takes encouragement of people to share their aspirations and thoughts freely and openly.

For my part, I’d love to work together with women more and sometimes it is just a lack of confidence that stands between them and their goals. What matters most to me as an employer is the motivation to do a great job, regardless of the experience one has. Therefore, we offer all staff to learn on the job and to take part in training. We are working on an extensive training module that brings all team members to the same level and gives them the opportunity to constantly develop and become great baristas. This is one example for how we ensure equality in the work place.

What are your aspirations for the future?

The future is now and we’ll bring to life a new specialty coffee retail concept in less than a month! We are extremely excited to invite the third wave coffee community and all coffee enthusiasts to experience our second Refinery location, which is a result of passion, hard work, creativity and bravery to innovate and make some buzz in Berlin’s coffee scene. Something else we look forward to are upcoming cooperations with Refinery friends, like and Mindspace. We bring people together who are equally excited about creating something new, innovative and contemporary.

I see great relationships being built between farmers, roasters, coffee shops and customers in the specialty coffee community. Our main stimulant for the future is tightly connected to the community’s shared values, such as social responsibility and quality standards, which is why one project will be to visit places of origins with our team in the near future.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee and brewing method?

Filter is one of the best ways to experience a good coffee. My favourites are Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee which offer an excellent balance of citric flavor, acidity and body. If I have a choice, I always go for a V60 hand brew.

Thank you, Tansel!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Bára Ernygrova

Bara is from the Czech Republic and has already worked in coffee all over the world - including Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Sao Paolo and Wellington. Currently, she is the head roaster at Tres Cabezas. Her passion for coffee is infectious and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

Bára Ernygrova roaster

"The smell of freshly ground coffee in the morning – I wouldn’t trade it for anything!"

Bara, what triggered your career in coffee?

It’s actually very funny and very boring at the same time. I’ve been working in coffee for 10 years and started as a teenager. I loved the atmosphere in the coffee shops and to see the morning rituals of people, such as drinking espresso while reading the newspaper That was something that mesmerized me from when I was a kid. But when I had my first sip of coffee, I couldn’t understand why it was such a big part of people’s life - it tasted disgusting to me.

I gained my first work experience in Prague at a gorgeous coffee shop. The delicious menu, the beautiful cups and interior fascinated me. It was Italian inspired, offering freshly squeezed orange juice and strong espresso. I thought all the people working there were the coolest people on earth! There was no specialty coffee at the time but the café was so advanced with two grinders – meaning one for espresso and one for milk based drinks. I started to waitress but was really interested in the coffee side – so the owner decided to give me a shot behind the bar. One of the managers became my trainer, she was pretty hard on me and I was secretly afraid of her. We are still friends today.

What's your role at your place of work?

I started about a month ago so it is all pretty new. Mainly, I roast, I do the quality control but am very open to get involved with everything. I am still getting to know the people, trying to encourage colleagues to give feedback on my roasting.

How would you describe your journey towards roasting?

It is not an easy job to get, as there are not as many job openings in roasting as in serving. In my experience some people believe men are more suitable for this position because it is heavy, hands-on work that requires technical skills. But if you love what you do there is always a way to make it happen! Starting from the cup I went backwards in a way, constantly trying to dive deeper – from preparing beverages to calibrating espresso machines, roasting and farming at origins. When it comes to roasting coffee, I was challenged to put myself out there. I heard about a position available at Tim Wendelboe, applied and got invited to a Skype interview. Although I didn’t get the job this helped me to trust in myself and my skills and I was willing to do what it takes to get into roasting! It was patience, persistence and hard work what got me there. After some time, Five Elephant announced an open roasting position and I jumped on the opportunity. After a one-week trial, I finally stood next to a 25kg Diedrich.

Bára Ernygrova roaster

What makes the coffee shop where you work now unique? What’s the philosophy?

I feel at Tres Cabezas people are very human in the way they take care of their staff and guests. It is a workplace where it is okay to say ‘I don’t know’. People listen, they are not afraid to ask for help and acknowledge there are things that need improvement. It’s a very nice and refreshing relationship where both parties grow and bloom. Appreciation is important and commitment is recognized!

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

I can get inspired by anyone, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a person working in coffee. I admire people who stand up for themselves and people who create something with their hands.

What about coffee competitions? Have you participated or plan to do so in the future?

Not yet. For two years I’ve been thinking about it but I actually really want to. Hopefully next year.

A topic that is often being discussed in the specialty coffee industry is the equal representation of gender in competitions. Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

 I think women can be more reserved when taking the stage. I'll leave it at that. :-)

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved?

In my perception there are more men visibly working in the coffee industry than women as they speak up louder. There needs to be a safe space for all members of the industry to voice concerns, have discussions and exchange knowledge. Sometimes I feel like there has been a lack of constructive criticism. Everyone’s opinion should be listened to. Making people feel incompetent does not help the industry to advance and it discourages people to perform their best. We should make people feel equally okay about saying: I don’t know’. Also, if during your daily work people constantly override you, it demotivates you from speaking up in the future.

What are your aspirations for the future?

The specialty coffee industry is young but also very competitive. I believe knowledge exchange is vital for making the industry advance and flourish. For myself, I see a future in coffee farming, because that’s where it all starts. I already spent half a year in Brazil during the harvest season and learned how complex coffee farming really is. In the future I would love to participate more in sustainable coffee farming projects at different places of origin. Standing in the coffee fields with mosquitos surrounding me in the heat made me realize, I love this! I want the dust!

What’s your favorite kind of coffee and brewing method?

I love espresso and the memory I associate with it from my early beginnings working as a barista. I’d almost go as far as saying I am addicted to it (my boyfriend would confirm this!). While working at the coffee farm in Brazil I was right at the source but with no espresso machine in sight. Torture, if you ask me! In my despair I turned to the Aeropress hoping to find satisfaction in an Aero-presso, but it didn’t quite do the job.

Thanks, Bara!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.